15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA | Stone Brewing

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15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA
1,446 Ratings
15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA

Brewed by:
Stone Brewing
California, United States

Style: American Black Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.80%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by HopHead84 on 08-16-2011

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,446 |  Reviews: 718
Photo of avaldivia
4.33/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured bomber into a pint glass.

A: Very black. Thick head about an inch thick. Great lacing.

S: Grapefruit and a bit of roasted malts. The hops overpower the roasty scent, but I've come to expect that from his style.

T: Grapefruit deliciousness. The roasted malts are more prominent in the taste than in the scent. It has the prefect balance of hops and roasted malts.

M: Medium to thick bodied. Great carbonation.

O: I love Sublimely Self-Rightous, but this puts it to shame. I will try to pick up at least one more before they are gone.

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Photo of charliedvrs
4.25/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep black with a finger of dark tan head that leaves a slight bit of lacing down the glass. Those nose is dominated by roasted malts, dark chocolate, and resinous hops. I also get some spice - brown sugar and cinnamon. The taste is similar, roasty and very, very bitter, especially upfront. I'm not picking up much citrus or fruit flavored hops, mostly grassy and resinous. Strong dark chocolate notes reminiscent of a rich chocolate fudge. Picking up on a bit of onion and maybe even a soy sauce type flavor? Alcohol is definitely present, though not overwhelming. Mouthfeel is smooth and creaming, full bodied with a nice lingering bitterness. Really nice beer, only knock is I feel there could have been some more hop flavor, I'm only really getting the resinous bitterness.

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Photo of hopluva1
4.5/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours black with a nice 2 finger dark tan head, looks like a stout.
Aroma is all fresh hops, piney, some grapefruit. Smells like a great DIPA.
Taste is right along with aroma with nice hop bitterness mixed with a little coffee bitterness, you get some stout like flavors at the end along with some alcohol.
Overall it drinks mostly like a DIPA right now (fresh). I think that as it ages the hops will fade and it will be a different beer, more stout like.
Even though it may sound like a mish mash kinda beer it is enjoyable. The 10.8% alcohol goes down easy.

Well done Stone!

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Photo of welldigger888
4.75/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured an opaque black with lovely dense tan head that laces the glass nicely.

West coasty style hop bomb that is roasted and toasted but not to heavy.

Citrusy piney hoppy dank that eases into a fine dark roastiness that never gets to thick, easy drinker.On our hot summer this brew proves to be refreshingly unstout type stout?

Nice and full without being thick and dense, still august here and it drinks damn fine on a balmy thurs evening.

These cats are not afraid to bring it and bring it BIG! Well done highly drinkable hop & ABV bomb.

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Photo of morningthief
4.77/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Fresh bottle poured into a Pabst chalice.

A vigorous pour yields a one-finger tan head that settles nicely and all but disappears by the end of the glass.

Putting my nose to the glass I am immediately overwhelmed by the scent of fresh hop and grainy dark malt, with coffee and dark chocolate notes in the finish. If you have ever brewed beer before, you would liken the nose to the scent of the first hop addition during the boil. It's just that fresh. I am honestly more impressed with this smell than I have ever been with a beer.

The taste that follows is absolutely masterful. Tons of fresh hop flavor, roasty dark malt, coffee, chocolate, and exceptionally well-balanced bitterness rounds out the flavor. Offsetting the high IBU count is a delicate sweetness that is a welcome and refreshing resolution to the bold, crisp bitter dark malt and hop flavor. I am often dubious of the black IPA in general, but Stone does it correctly here.

Mouthfeel is medium to heavy, creamy, slick; expected but admittedly a little thick for my tastes. If this were a sweet stout it would be absolutely perfect.

What a triumph this beer is. While I would count myself a casual fan of Stone brews I am often blown away by their seasonals and one-offs, and 15th Anniversary is yet another addition to the line-up. Kudos to Stone for celebrating its 15th year in business with such a tremendous brew.

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Photo of gatorbreath
4.23/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Its like you're drinking an IPA with the characteristics of a stout....unreal, really..

Pitch black, opaque pour with a nutty/mocha looking bubbly head that leaves some formidable lacing down my glass...already about 1/5 of the way done with 1 pint and feeling So Irie....you do the math

Smell is full of malt, pine, citrus, hoppiness....goodness..Taste is much the same, piney/citrus hops, some malt to kick up yer feet to. Diggin it. mouthfeel is like a stout, chocolatey, coffee like, cant even explain...just feels thick and syrupy like your favorite thicker brew..just perplexing this beer is...

Overall, seeing as how I cant finish a review w/o feeling doopy, i dont know how many i could drink and still f(x)...enjoy, friends, truly an obscure and special offering from Stone..

cherish dis..

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Photo of Phelps
3.97/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This isn't Stone's first rodeo — the Escondido-based brewery has been making a black IPA called Sublimely Self-Righteous since 2009 (which, interestingly, premiered two years prior as their 11th anniversary ale). Stone 15th, however, is a different beast, packed with more IBUs and an additional two percent of alcohol.

Darker than most stouts, Stone 15th is black as black gets, with a small cap of silky foam the color of cocoa powder. The air above is thick with resinous hops that lend notes of bitter grapefruit peel, pine needles and grass. A placid background of dark chocolate and anise reminds you of the presence of roasted malt.

The oily, lip-smacking flavor is equally hop-riddled, though here you get definite occurrences of tropical pineapple and JuicyFruit along with the grapefruit and grass. The malt does its best to provide a background of burnt toast and cocoa nibs, but it buckles under the weight of the sticky hops. Equally unavoidable is the alcohol content -- while the beer's supple body swoops across the tongue, flammable-feeling fumes fill the nose.

Even after 15 years, Stone continues to put out beers that challenge traditional notions of style. Their take on a black IPA is unique, with the fruity, tropical hops contrasting the black malt in ways not found in other examples. The malt seems to lend more color than flavor, and I could use a bit more roast, but there's no denying Stone makes a damn fine ale. Here's to 15 more.

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Photo of jm1229
4.38/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle opened on 8/24 and poured into a Stone pint glass.

A- Black. Black black. Is this a stout? Looks like one. Total surprise. Thick mocha head leaving tons of lacing. Wow.

S- Immediately pick up the citrus smell. Followed by some malt tones. That's about all I can get.

T- Wow, what a punch. Citrus, chocolate, malt, mocha, and coffee. Great bitter aftertaste. There is almost no evidence of the 10.8%. Amazing.

M- Medium body. Way smoother than you'd ever imagine. The carbonation is perfect for what you'd want from an IPA.

O- This is an amazing beer. Exceptional. I'd love if this beer was made into a year-round release (much like Self-righteous was upgraded from a special to a year-round). I guess I'm going to have to stock up because, damn, this is a great beer. Big fan.

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Photo of azdback
4.41/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Stone Imperial glass. Dark, but not pitch black. Some light passes thru the edges and is dark brown out there. Head is an incredible three fingers and ultra firm. The bubbles are so small that the edge looks like memory foam. The color of the head is a dark mocha and hasn't gone anywhere since I poured it. Fantastic!!

Smell is kind of hard to get to, I guess I'll just have to dive my oversized snout into the unrelenting head. Here goes. The only thing I can get for now is earthy or bread. I continue to smell as I drink and am able to pull some ultra sweet citrus of maybe a pink grapefruit or blood orange, and a bit of spice.

Taste is like roasted coffee. Big roasted flavors, charred wood, chocolate, tobacco, and some bitter hop notes. There is also a considerable alcohol burn and some spice also.

Mouth is rich and full bodied. The tongue is left a little dry from the tartness of the malt body and the bitterness from the hops. Quite nice!

Overall I must say how outstanding I think this beer is. It is like a black IPA on steroids! I have been trading lately to get 10th Anniversary thru 14th so I could do this as a vert, but I couldn't hold back on this one. Once again I blow my load too soon. It's okay I guess, cause there is still more at the local bottle shop. Cheers to Greg and Steve and the rest of the Stone crew and I can't wait to try the 30th.

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Photo of ESPNman
4.4/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A - Black. As in pure, unadulterated motor-oil black. Eerily similar to the Imperial Russian Stout. Refused to let light through, produced a thick two-finger mocha-colored head that faded slowly with good lacing.

S - Vanilla, leather, smoke. Sweeter than most IPAs, slight bit of of floral hops towards the end.

T - Fantastic. Vanilla, smoke, and sweet caramel malts at first. Fades into cocoa and hops. More floral than piney or citrus. Finishes with a bit of stone-style piney resinous hop.

Mouthfeel - Thick, but not as thick as the stout-like appearance would make you anticipate. Good level of carbonation.

Overall - I picked up three bottles, and will probably end up buying more. Fantastic brew. Improved over the SoCal Hop Salute trial run that I had at the brewery. Go for it!

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Photo of Docer
4.03/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: (4.5)
- Pours a dark stout-like jet brown brew. Can't see through even a centimeter of it. Huge slow forming mocha head that gave my pour about 3 fingers of thick foam. It has settled slowly to an 1/8th inch layer of cream with lacing all about the glass. Looks like this one will stick the whole way down.

Smell: (4.0)
- This thick brew seems to be hiding a lot of its robustness within its liquid confinement. Lots of zesty pine and floral hops hit the nose.. as much as possible. Coffee, chocolate, and bitter dark malts stand out like a fine dessert. There is almost a salty and smokey touch to it as well.. perhaps just the roasted malts.

Taste: (4.0)
- Wonderful huge bitter pine hops, and floral-citrus flavor hops.. big hop punch riding a smooth black roasted malt bed of grain.. big bitter coffee, mocha, and cocoa... hops are big, and is close to being very balanced.. though the hops still remain huge. Alcohol in this 10.8% beast is hardly noticed.

Mouth Feel: (4.0)
- Creamy smooth viscous beverage. Carbonation is well in place, and is perfect for the style. It is quite drying from its bitterness, and leaves a bit of a chalky film in the mouth. Certainly what it should be for the style.

Overall: (4.0)
- Overall this is a super solid imperial CDA. The hops are huge.. both bittering and aroma. I am impressed with it, but then again, it is a bit late in the game. Stone's Sublimely is a huge CDA in the game of CDA's.. and this one kind of sits there right with it.. but doesn't stand above it in overall quality. Certainly worth buying a few, and having on tap if you get the chance.

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Photo of SDDanC
3.93/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into pint glass. Thick, rich, chocolate head atop a murky dark black abyss. Nose is real subtle, bit of cocoa, very minute hops, vanilla and smoke. On the tongue it is smokey, burnt chocolate malt, coffee, hops a bit, bitterness comes out from the dark chocolate and hops. Mouthfeel, good and 'hearty'. Matches the heavy and bold flavor, with full carbonation. Overall, good beer. Still a little skeptical on the 'ipa' part, I think it would be great as a big stout.

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Photo of OldIronLungs
4.35/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I actually laughed when I read Escondidian. Here's to excessive appellation!

Poured into a Portsmouth tulip a deep slick black with a solid finger of light coffee colored head.

Nice mellow hit of sweet flowery pine, bitter chocolate, and roasted coffee on the nose. Very appealing.

Bitter chocolate and dry espresso up front - really nice pine and citrus bitterness through the finish. Sticky but smooth body manages to beg another sip - solid carbonation and an abv that ever so delicately lingers with the bitter finish.

Great beer, really a defining example of the style in my opinion. Would buy again. Will buy again.

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Photo of NEhophead
4.05/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 fl oz brown bottle, served in an oversized wine glass.

Syrupy, deep maple in color beneath a gorgeously creamy, coffee-colored head that fades to an intact sheet after a few moments. Spotted lacing with decent strength.

Bright, tropical fruit aromas whose sweetness is enhanced a bit by a mild, toasted malt and hints of vanilla. Notes of black pepper and clove spice.

The tropical fruit flavors seem to be dipped in simple syrup with notes of vanilla. The toasted malts have a bit of smoked caramel flavor that balances out the hop intensity. The 10%+ ABV is hot and certainly makes its presence known. Filling the aftertaste and accompanied by the bitterness is a clove-filled medicinal quality.

A full, medium in body. The texture is almost velvety it is so smooth despite the hefty ABV and hop presence.

I'm still trying to grasp the style, especially one of this strength. This offering certainly speaks well of the style.

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Photo of jpro
4.28/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bomber from CBX...

A: Pours an abysmal black, with no light penetrating through; a nice inch of foamy, mocha head caps the darkness, manages some superb retention and leaves quite a bit of spotty / strandy lace; looks heavy!

S: Super heavy grapefruit rind; some other citrus notes and minty hops; pine sap and raw wood.

T: The slightest bit of roast malt and some chocolate, quickly followed by an intense hop party... grapefruit and some sweeter hops - then comes the big time herbal / resiny pine kicker. Wow! Gets a little boozier with some warmth.

M: Full-bodied; low-medium carbonation; this brew has a nice, luscious mouthfeel - almost velvety; although the hops are pretty big, there is a certain degree of smoothness to this beer (considering the large abv).

O: A pretty drinkable BIG brew; a nice adventure into one of Stone’s ultra-hoppy forays - and super fresh, at that; nice story on the bottle as well. Good job, Stone!

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Photo of J0E
4.33/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle - 2 pours into a snifter last night

A: Dark black with a nice dark tan head which dissipated but left a nice ring of lace throughout the whole tasting.

S: Strong floral hops. Really smells like an IPA with some roasted malt in the background.

T: Again, very heavily hopped. Nice strong bitterness with some citrusy notes as well. The malt has a solid presence here as well. A roasted/toasted bread flavor with a bit of bitter chocolate. hardly a hint of the 10% abv.

M: Light to medium body with plenty of carbonation.

O: I've tried a handful of Black IPAs and a couple Imperial Black IPAs, and this one is the top (followed closely by Arcardia's B- Craft). Very enjoyable and a decent price tag.

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Photo of jmarsh123
4.15/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wow this beer is black! Pours a dark motor oil opaque black with a small coffee colored head that died down to a thin layer with lacing.

Smells is very unique. Lots of good citrusy/piney hops but also a lot of roasted coffee as well. Very well balanced.

As far as tatse, there's the black again. Good citrus hops notes at the front, but in no time the roasted coffee flavor takes over finishing with a very rich coffee flavor and a little dry.

Mouthfeel is pretty heavy, but not as much as expected for the color. Carbonation level is lower than average.

Don't like it as much as the 14th, but another good annual from Stone. I've got a few of these and I'm looking forward to seeing how it ages.

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Photo of GJ40
4.5/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled on tap at Tyler's in Apex, NC.

A deep, dark, menacing beer with a nice beige head. It looks every bit like and Imperial Stout. The aroma is floral and citrusy with minimal contributions from the malt. The taste is big on hop flavor with lots of citrus and floral but only a moderate bitterness. The malts join in with a dark chocolate punch. The 10% alcohol is well hidden. The mouth feel brings back that Imperial Stout comparison with a thick and chewy finish.

This is a very interesting, flavorful beer with a lot more body and character than most black IPAs.

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Photo of MarkVegas
4.72/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Pours black and opaque. A tan head a little less than a finger appears and dissipates quickly. Lacing clings to the glass as I drink.

S: First impression on the nose: hop bomb! After the hops you definitely some of that roasted malt goodness. Smells great!

T: Tastes awesome, hop bomb up front, roasty in the middle and hop bitter in the back. Well balanced. For a 10%+ abv beer you don't get much alcohol burn at all. So Good!

M: Good body with just the right amount of carbonation. Not too heavy, lively on the tongue but finishes so smooth.

O: Seem like I'm gushing a bit? Yea, I am. This beer is most certainly my favorite for the style. Stone does not disappoint at all with this offering. With Sublimely Self-Righteous as the wingman to this beer its easy to say that Stone has the American Black Ale/Black IPS down to a science. Well played Stone, well played.

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Photo of DovaliHops
4.25/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a thick, black liquid with a medium tan/brown head that diminishes slowly. Scent is a lovely aroma of hops, citrus, pine, chocolate, and coffee. It really is amazing how all those distinct aromas can mesh so well. Taste is just as lovely. Initially I get a hint of chocolate, immediately followed by BIG hop flavor and citrus notes. Finishes with a bit of booze and strong espresso flavors. A lot of espresso. Mouthfeel is full bodied and velvety, yet drinks rather smoothly. Drinkability is high for such a big beer. Overall, this is an up and coming style that Stone knocked right on the tip of the nose. Outstanding beer.

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Photo of jomo
4.42/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours black with noted high viscocity. Brown, sticky head on glass and surface. Looks BIG!

S: Excellent, fresh hops scent. Pine and citrus coming through. Sweet malt notes as well.

T: An interesting combination of hops, grapefruit and roasted malt. The grapefruit is quite prominant, which I like. I think is a bit overly sweet.

M: Like a thick, syrupy stout. Speedway comes to mind. Carbonation is fine and appropriate for this heavy brew.

O: I'm liking it. Certainly no session beer here and quite a bit over the top. A solid ass kicker. I only wish they would tone down the sweetness a notch.

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Photo of Dlish
4.52/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A- Pours a syrupy blackness out of the bottle. good dark brown head. Looks very much like a Imperial stout.

S- GREAT great Imperial IPA smell... lots of citrus grapefruit, almost a sour grape smell with the sweet malts backing it up. There are some floral smelling hops but I think the malts are making them sweeter.

T- I like the amount of hops, a bitter coco taste at the end. There is a toasted like mashmellow at the end. This taste is what I like a Strong Hop flavor with a Strong malt profile, its like self-righteous but double the ingredients.

M- Thick Malty and Taste

O- Tops off Stone on 15 years of arrogance. This 15 did not disappoint at all, creative, big, bold and robust. To another 15 years and all the creative beer that will follow with it.

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Photo of RandyV
3.88/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a beer that seems to me to have an identity crisis. The pour is nice, dark as night color with a two finger head. The smell is classic IPA, predominantly pine, with maybe some molasses in the background.

The identity crisis I referred to is in the taste and mouthfeel. There is hop bitterness up front, but it shares the stage with dark chocolate and espresso. This had a creamy mouthfeel and the alcohol is prevalent but not at all overwhelming. I felt like I was drinking a Russian Imperial Stout with an extra hop kick.

For me, it is simply a competition between two of my favorite styles, and I don't mind being the referee.

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Photo of charlzm
3.13/5  rDev -25.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Consumed at Lucky Baldwin's Trappist Pub and Cafe on Sunday, August 21st, 2011. Beer served in a small stemmed goblet.

Extremely dark brown (might as well just call it black) with a one finger cocoa-colored head composed of EXTREMELY fine and uniform bubbles.

Nose: hoppy as heck. Pine and grapefruit. Pleasing.

Up front, there is a nice malt chocolate flavor which is followed by resiny grapefruit. Not as bitter an affair as the hopping might have led one to believe, but the two flavors do not work well with each other. Noticeable alcohol as both flavor and heat.

Finish is unexpectedly clean; the palate is spared a stripping. Mouthfeel is creamy and a little thick.

This is like a black and tan made with a stout that gets overpowered by a double IPA. It just doesn't work for me. Chalk it up as an interesting failure; chocolate and grapefruit flavors do not complement each other here.

I'm going to age a couple of bottles of this to see what happens.

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Photo of KickInTheChalice
3.49/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served on tap in a snifter at the Stone Tap Takeover at Acre.

Appearance: The appearance of every Stone beer shows their care and devotion to the craft. Black in color with brown edges and a tan cap, this big American Black Ale retains remarkably well for the ABV and leaves some nice lace down the glass.

Smell: The aroma is dark roasted malt, coffee, soy sauce, and some piney hops with a touch of ethyl alcohol.

Taste: Unfortunately, the taste cannot shed the soy sauce aroma that I got in the nose. Roast coffee and malt go well together with some light sweetness, with a mostly pine hop bill at the end. The salty soy sauce flavor just throws this off too much to give it a good score though. The booze is there the whole time, but it manifests itself in its purest form at the end of the sip.

Mouthfeel: Moderately creamy and smooth, with a good amount of carbonation. Fuller than medium bodied, with an ABV that warms the throat and stomach. Not too sticky or resiny, although both sensations are there.

Overall: Not the best I have had. Where that soy sauce flavor came from, I don't know, but it really distracts from what would otherwise be a pretty good beer.

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15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA from Stone Brewing
Beer rating: 4.21 out of 5 with 1,446 ratings